|Combination photo shows a man in custody with and without his disguise in this handout image released to Reuters on November 5, 2010. REUTERS/Canada Border Services/Handout
A woman who was on an Air Canada flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver on which a young Asian man boarded disguised as an older Caucasian man before removing his silicone mask mid-flight says she tried to warn flight attendants about the disguise before takeoff, but her warnings were ignored.
Nuray Kurtur-Balas told CNN that she approached three flight attendants before the flight left but they did nothing.
“I thought he was going to harm the plane,” said Kurtur-Balas, 35. “I kept my iPhone in my pocket to call my family if something happened.”
On the plane, the man was seated about 10 rows behind her in a middle seat near the restroom.
After visiting the restroom, Kurtur-Balas noticed that the man was wearing a mask and that his hands looked much younger than his face.
“It wasn’t a real person’s skin. It looked plastic,” she told CNN. “I said to the flight attendant, ‘Did you check out that person’s hands? They seem like they belong to a 20-year-old kid. There are no wrinkles.’ She said, ‘Good observation.’”
She mentioned her concerns to two more flight attendants. One told her the man had not done anything wrong and may have a medical condition, she told CNN.
On Oct. 29, the young Chinese national boarded the Air Canada flight using the boarding pass of a U.S. citizen and wearing a mask that made him look older and Caucasion, according to an internal Canada Border Services Agency alert that was leaked to CNN last week.
During the flight, he went to the restroom and removed the mask.
In Canada, the man in his 20s was escorted off the plane by CBSA officers. He is making a refugee claim and was scheduled to appear before an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing Monday. His Canadian lawyer is seeking to have Chinese-Canadian newspapers excluded from the proceedings on the basis that they are controlled by the Chinese government and publicity about the case could endanger his client and his relatives.